Google street view catches Detroit man pointing gun

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DETROIT – Countless millions of people have spent hours on Google Maps checking out its unique Street View function for years, with the cameras often catching some pretty strange and candid moments. Nothing, it seems, was more bizarre then the afternoon in Sept. 2009 when the Street View car cruised down Brinker Street in Detroit.

The pictures – which have gone viral across the Internet – show a group of people standing on a porch on the 18800 block of Brinker on the city’s east side. In the middle of the group stands a shirtless young man – whose face is digitally blurred on the photos – who appears to be brandishing a shotgun. A second photo shows him pointing the gun at the Google car.

A spokeswoman for Google told the Detroit News that all Street View imagery goes through computer processing to stitch the photos into panoramic images for Google Maps. It includes running all imagery through face-blurring technology, which helps make sure that passers-by in the photographs can’t be identified.

The Detroit Police are reviewing the photos to see if any crimes were committed in the photo. In Detroit, no permit is required to have a firearm on your own personal property.

“Was it this person’s home,” Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said to WWJ. “Because you do have a right to bear arms in your home. Certainly it looks like he’s on a porch that’s attached to a home, so that would not be a legal issue. Is this person an adult or a juvenile?”

Worthy also said that depending on the situation, pointing a gun at someone is not illegal if you feel threatened. Jacob Wykoff, a Maryland meteorologist who happened to be in Detroit on business back in July, discovered the picture while looking at Google Maps.

“I was actually just there in July,” said Wykoff, who works for WHAG-TV, the NBC affiliate in Hagerstown, Md. “It’s certainly uneasy to see that type of stuff, I guess it happens in any major city, but Detroit sort of has a reputation now.”

Another layer to this bizarre story is that the house was the site of a mysterious death. According to public records, the body of 1-year-old Zyia Turner was found dead under a pile of clothes in a closet in the home on June 29.

Turner was apart of a group of children were being cared for by an uncle when Detroit Police said the man left the home and the girl had disappeared by the time he returned. Turner’s body was found the next day with the help of cadaver dogs.

The Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office told the Detroit News Thursday that Turner’s autopsy is incomplete and the cause of death is still pending. Worthy’s Office insists that they could not say if the house in the photos was the exact location where the child’s body was found.

“Currently, the case is under investigation by the police and we have not been presented with a warrant,” said Maria Miller, a spokeswoman for Worthy said. “This is why our office is unable to confirm whether the house in picture is the exact location where infant Zyia Roch-Quelle Alyssa Turner was found lifeless in a closet.”

Follow Jay Scott Smith on Twitter @JayScottSmith